For those states that are not fully incorporated, annexation is one way municipalities are able to expand their borders to ensure economic, social and cultural diversity. However, annexation can be a contentious issue because of its potential effect on property owners and residents. In addition, annexation is seen as a financial threat to those counties that provide municipal-like services to residents and businesses in unincorporated areas.
The City of Gainesville and Alachua County are not immune from the controversy created by annexation. While much of the growth for the City has come from State legislative action, the majority of expansion has come from either voluntary annexations or annexations by referendum. Historically, this continual expansion of the City’s municipal borders created concern, apprehension and tension between both the City and the County. This condition lead to distrust between staff for both entities, and these feelings trickled over to those residents being served by both governments.
In addition, County residents’ perception of rapid growth in certain geographic areas of the County was inconsistent with their commitment to environmental protection and land conservation. Entering into a cooperative agreement for annexation had to balance the political aspects and residents’ sustainability concerns.
In order to address these issues, the City and County decided to sit down together, and cooperatively and collaboratively craft an interlocal agreement that would dispel the uncertainty that annexation created.